At SLEEP 2019, attendees who stopped by the company’s booth were able to get scanned with Mask Selector tablet-software technology.

CPAP interfaces can cause claustrophobia, noisy air leaks can keep patients up at night, and poor fitting masks can be uncomfortable. These are just a few of the reasons why some sleep apnea patients give up on their CPAP therapy.

A team of engineers at Philips have been working on a solution: Mask Selector, a new software program that the company unveiled and demoed in the exhibit hall at SLEEP 2019 in San Antonio in June.

The software is designed to work with a tablet. Similar to software found at some shoe stores to fit semi-custom orthotics, the mask-fitting software uses a mounted camera to capture a 3D scan, in this case of the patient’s face, which is then synced with cloud-based algorithms for facial analysis, to generate a mask recommendation.

The tool aims to standardize the mask selection process to ultimately reduce discomfort, lead to better fitting CPAP masks, and improve overall patient outcomes. “The idea is to optimize the experience the first time, so they don’t go home and have a mask that they don’t like,” says David White, MD, chief medical officer at Philips. “If you could give them something that spot-on fits the first time, the hope is that that will improve their use of the device.”

Jonathan Grashow, senior staff engineer at Philips Respironics, says, “This is really powerful because it allows us to extract the critical facial geometry for each one of our masks and it allows us to do mask recommendation in sizing, not just from a few dimensions taken off the face, but based on the size, shape, and curvature of the face, and as we look toward the future, you can see how this really sets the stage for custom masks.”

As the patient is instructed to hold still, the clinician, a sleep tech or a sleep specialist, takes the facial scan in just a few seconds. After a short questionnaire, the patient is then matched with a CPAP mask and a size recommendation, explains Kevin Coldren, director of global product management, OSA solutions.

“We are basically trying to move the mask selection process from something that is very subjective to something more data-driven and more precise,” says Coldren.

The questionnaire is designed to capture some of the patients’ preferences and characteristics, including their preferred sleeping position and their ability to breathe through their nose. The series of questions were designed to be similar to what a typical clinician may ask patients when fitting them with a mask, says Coldren.

“We wanted to standardize the mask selection process, so new patients starting out can really start in the best way possible,” says Grashow.

The software is currently undergoing a soft launch and is expected to become available by the end of this year.

Lisa Spear is associate editor of Sleep Review.